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Thread: A ride through Thailand

  1. #1
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    Default A ride through Thailand

    18th Dec 23rd Dec 2012

    Is that an air force helmet? asked the security guard at IGI Airport, New Delhi, when my Joe Rocket hybrid helmet passed through the scanner. I gave my typical police response smile and replied I wish sir but this is just a regular motorcycle helmet. I smiled and moved towards the departure gate. I was on my way to Thailand for the bike ride I had planned.



    Initially Chiang Mai and the surrounding areas were the main agenda, but I kept adding locations to make it suitable to my riding acumen. After spending a few touristy days in Bangkok it was time to head north. I had pre-booked a Kawasaki Versy from Bangkok Bike Rentals (www.bangkokbikesrental.com). They had various two wheeler options from 125cc scooters, 250 dual sports to 650cc touring and their motorcycles were well maintained. For a small additional fee they also provide helmets, bags, GPS, onboard video cameras, etc. Third-party insurance underwritten is included in their service.



    BANGKOK TO CHIANG MAI

    After a quick Thai language lesson, buying the map, fixing the GPS, loading my luggage, understanding the route and putting on safety gear, I pressed the start button. I was riding alone, just like my previous trips. This time as well my friend backed out due to certain personal / professional commitments. But unlike last time I was more confident about riding solo. Riding alone in an unknown land can be daunting. Factors like language, road direction, health, emergencies etc. work against you. But the language of human emotions and expressions is universal. Besides, the unknown makes such trips fun, why play safe?

    Bangkok is known for its crazy traffic, so it took me some time to get out of the city. BBR staff was helpful and guided me, till I reached a point from where I had to ride straight out of the city. I crossed the Don Mueang airport and continued straight towards Ayutthaya, located in the Valley of Chao Phraya River. Its named after the city of Ayodhya in India. There is an interesting story of how this second Ayodhya (Ayutthaya) came into being. The city was founded in 1350 by King U Thong, who went there to escape a smallpox outbreak in Lop Buri and proclaimed it the capital of his kingdom, often referred to as the Ayutthaya kingdom or Siam. Ayutthaya became the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. It was supposedly one of the world's largest cities by the year 1600 and had a population of about 300,000, with the population perhaps reaching 1,000,000 around 1700 AD. In 1767, the city was destroyed by the Burmese army, resulting in the collapse of the kingdom.



    Ayutthaya was on my list of places to visit but I covered it on my way back because I was already late. I had to cover 740 km and it was 11.30. Staff at BBR told me that it wont take more than 5-6 hours but that meant riding at 150km/h continuously for 5 hours. Nah, its not that I dont like riding fast but the agenda was to enjoy the journey and not just reach the destination. The Highway was good, not much traffic, so I was cruising at 120-130 km/h without any difficulties. Occasionally I would push it to all the way to 200 km/h. The 650 twin Kawasaki Versys produces around 72 bhp has enough power to zip pass most of the vehicles on highway. It surprised me at times, I would think that I had peaked but a twist of the throttle would offer more power.



    Unlike India, petrol in Thailand is called Gasoline or Gasohol. I would stop after every 200 km to tank up and get some refreshment for myself. Versys has tank capacity of 19 lts but mileage is not so good. For a 650cc engine it was giving me a mileage of 11-12 on highway. Fuel price is almost at par with Indian rates, it was around 38-40 baht per litre. Most of the gas stations accept credit cards. You can withdraw cash from ATMs, but you pay a transaction charge every time. Thai banks charge 150 baht per withdrawal for non-Thai cards.



    The GPS device worked well, though it occasionally misguided me on to some remote country road. Most of the signboards were in Thai, but some were also in English. Little ahead of Ban Tak, I smelt the mountain wind and felt the chill in my mesh jacket. The sun was about to set and I still had to cover another 200 km. I was enjoying the ride with the cold wind, mountains, orange sky, green surroundings and open roads.

    CHIANG MAI, THE MOTORCYCLE CITY
    I crossed the bridge over the Ping River, to enter Chiang Mai around 7. It was smaller, rustic and more traditional than Bangkok. It had many boutique hotels and I stopped at one of the hotels which looked like a typical old world structure with wood work and traditional Thai / Burmese dcor. But the room and its rate equation didnt make sense to me. I picked up a city map from the hotel and realized I was in the central part of the walled city, which was probably the reason why hotels were so expensive. So I moved to the outskirts in search of cheaper accomodation.

    Chiang Mai's historical centre is the walled city (Chiang means City in Thai, while mai is new, hence Chiang Mai or New City was so-named because it was the new capital) in the capital of the Lanna kingdom. Sections of the wall were restored, along with the remains of gates and corners, but of the rest only the moat remains. The moat was designed to keep the Burmese from seizing the city. Now the city has expanded much beyond these Moats but these moats makes the city look very beautiful and helped me figure out my directions easily!

    Being the second largest city of Thailand, Chiang Mai is also the largest and culturally significant in northern Thailand. Multiple live music, open air restaurants around Ping River gives it a tranquil feel. As I was finding my way out of city centre, I came across a familiar sound of multiple Harley Davidsons roaring in one corner of the walled city.

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    I eventually checked in a hotel called The Xym, thanks to a local biker, who played interpreter. I was a tired but stepped out to check the night market. Chiang Mai has a large and famous night bazaar for local arts and handicrafts. The night bazaar sprawls across several city blocks along footpaths, inside buildings and temple grounds and in open squares. I also got to know that there is a specific handicraft, silver market also organized on weekends.

    I decided to spend the next day in Chiang Mai, exploring the city. By now I had figured that Chiang Mai was popular amongst group of bikers, especially in this time of the year (Nov-Feb). There are several motorbike rental shops. Kawasakis service center was packed. I just wanted them to adjust my windshield but they were booked for a week and even after pleading for long they denied as they didnt have parts which they needed to change. I had damaged the alignment of windshield and speedometer as I dropped the bike while I was trying to click a picture. Thankfully a local shop fixed it without any part replacement. So jugaad (alternate technique) does work out of India as well. Night safari, night zoo and various other adventure activities are arranged by various local travel agents and can be booked then and there. X-center seemed more popular amongst western tourist (thanks to its claim of As seen on AXN TV).

    Inside Chiang Mai's remaining city walls are more than 30 temples dating back to the founding of the principality, in a combination of Burmese, Sri Lankan and Lanna Thai styles, decorated with beautiful wood carvings, Naga staircases, leonine and angelic guardians, gilded umbrellas and pagodas laced with gold filigree. The most famous is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which overlooks the city from a mountainside 13 km away.

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    This is a place where both backpackers and luxury tourists can enjoy the ultimate Thailand holiday, as the city is one of the few places in Thailand where it is possible to experience both historical and modern Thai culture coexisting side by side: the city features centuries-old chedis and temples next to modern convenience stores and boutique hotels. No wonder Chiang Mai is the only tourist destination in Thailand to have made it in to the 2012 list of "25 Best Destinations in the World" of the popular travel website Trip Advisor.

    By evening various open air eating joints come to life. Full of flavored food most of these places have live music performance and lot of them have fresh vegetables / meat on display to choose from. I met the biker girl again who had helped me at the hotel one night before. Girls in general are very pretty across Thailand but that wasnt the reason for me to hang out with her. She agreed to show me around some good live music places and also told me about various motorcycle routes around Chiang Mai, not to miss that she agreed to let me take her CBR for a spin. I wondered if that was because of Thai hospitality or may be female riders are not so possessive about their machines. This was a slightly old machine but loved the sporty seating posture, sweet sounding in-line four cylinder engine produced pleasing power throughout its rev range.

  2. #2
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    Biking is not about what you have between your legs, its all about how well you use it!!!!!!!

    Give your details here if you want to help your fellow xBhpian stranded in your city

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    Wonderful log Abhishek..It takes lot of guts,experience and what not to ride in a foreign country.That too Solo in non-English speaking country.
    Hats off buddy,I have few questions for you.

    1) what was the daily rental for the bike ?
    2) How about the driving license requirement ?
    3) Did you have to pay any deposit ?

    More questions later

    Cheers
    Biru

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    MG
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    Something which is in my radar for a year now
    Join xBhp On



    My photography page: Gourab Das Photography

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    Quote Originally Posted by MG View Post
    Something which is in my radar for a year now
    Hi Super Moderator..Mujhe bhi le chalnaa saath me :P

    CHeers
    Biru

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    Quote Originally Posted by beruoist View Post
    Wonderful log Abhishek..It takes lot of guts,experience and what not to ride in a foreign country.That too Solo in non-English speaking country.
    Hats off buddy,I have few questions for you.

    1) what was the daily rental for the bike ?
    2) How about the driving license requirement ?
    3) Did you have to pay any deposit ?

    More questions later

    Cheers
    Biru

    1) what was the daily rental for the bike? - 1800 baht a day for Versys, this was slightly on the higher side as i hired it from bangkok. It's cheaper easily around 150 baht cheaper in Chiang Mai.
    2) How about the driving license requirement ? Indian driving licence works just fine
    3) Did you have to pay any deposit ? yes, around 6000 baht plus passport.
    beruoist likes this.

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    waiting for more

    Cheers
    BIru

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    Rusted Haroon's Avatar
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    Nice to see a ride report from Thailand with some lovely pics.
    Thanks for sharing and waiting for more



    Growing old is compulsory - growing up is optional
    So many roads, So little time
    RIDE for PASSION

    See us & our global rides at:
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    Rusted Nagesh Patankar's Avatar
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    An RR from Thailand , awesome ! Thanks for sharing !
    Waiting for more

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    Quote Originally Posted by DriftMan View Post
    1) what was the daily rental for the bike? - 1800 baht a day for Versys, this was slightly on the higher side as i hired it from bangkok. It's cheaper easily around 150 baht cheaper in Chiang Mai.
    2) How about the driving license requirement ? Indian driving licence works just fine
    3) Did you have to pay any deposit ? yes, around 6000 baht plus passport.
    Is it Indian drivers License or Indian International Driving License?

    When I checked last time Indian Driving License is not valid in Thailand.
    Helmets On +
    High-Beams Off And
    Only Headphones I need is my Exhaust!!

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